Claim: “Women are legally free to abort a baby because of its sex”

Pregnant Woman in HospitalThe issue of “sex selective abortion” is traditionally framed as a problem common in the Asian continent or South-Eastern Europe. However, in early 2012, The Telegraph carried out an undercover investigation at various abortion clinics in England and found that doctors were willing to authorise abortions for women who objected to the birth of the baby because of its sex. One of the doctors likened the practice to “female infanticide” while the other told a woman it was not her job to “ask questions”. The Telegraph then inaccurately attributed the claim; “women are legally free to abort a baby because of its sex” to Ann Furedi, chief executive of the British Pregnancy Advisory Service (BPAS).

True or False?

The practice has generally been deemed illegal, although there is recognition that the broad scope of the Abortion Act 1967 facilitates such procedures in practice. The current law does not preclude a doctor from considering gender as a factor, as long as this is justified on a medical basis, and outlaws abortion on gender grounds alone. This makes the claim false, along with its attribution to Ann Furedi (and BPAS, which distanced itself from The Telegraph’s paraphrasing of her comments).

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